In the end, the Sixers even sucked at sucking.
They ended their season Wednesday night just as they started it: with a victory over the defending NBA champion Miami Heat. Given that everybody knew going into the season that the plan was to stink up the joint as much as possible, those two wins are … unforgivable? Because they helped give the Sixers only the second-worst record in the NBA this season — which means the even more putrid Milwaukee Bucks now have the best chance of capturing the top pick — and, with it, perhaps a semblance of a future in professional basketball.
Still, we’re not sure this is the worst season in Philly sports history. Yes, it was bad, but everybody knew to expect it. It’s the stomach-punch seasons — where expectations and achievement misalign badly — that should count. And there are lots of contenders for that prize. Here’s a nominee from each of the city’s major remaining pro teams:
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Though I think it would be obvious to all right-thinking people, not everyone believes the Phillie Phanatic is the best mascot in all of recorded history. Allow me to disabuse you of your ignorance by making a simple case in six GIFs from last night’s cold Phillies loss.
The particular Phanatic bit I’ll be focusing on happened in the third inning.
As you can see, the Phanatic was harassing a fan in the stands, as he is wont to do. This is my favorite part about the Phanatic: Its whole shtick is to be jerks to fans of the team he is supposedly a phanatic of. This is the kind of irony kids should be learning in school, alongside Shakespeare.
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Cliff Lee pitched a complete game, struck out 13 batters and gave up just 1 run on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park, but the Phillies were shut out in a 1-0 loss to the Braves. They’re now 6-8, four games back of division-leading Atlanta.
Phillies Lose to Braves, Are Incredibly Cold in Process »
Cole Hamels about to strike out a batter.
OYO Sportstoys, a company that makes “building-block mini-figures featuring the likenesses of your favorite MLB, NFL, and NHL players,” just published a fun video where it uses its toys to re-create the big moments leading to the Phillies’ 2008 World Series Win. See how well it stacks up to your memory of the day below:
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From last night’s 9-6 Atlanta Braves victory over the Phillies comes this animated GIF showing the reactions of Phillies fans to a grand slam by Dan Uggla to win it in the 9th. Read more »
We’re 12 games into the season, and the Phillies are 6-6. In their first homestand of the year, they were swept by the Brewers — who are out to a 10-2 start, the best in baseball — but rebounded to sweep in the Marlins in turn. The Phillies have been outscored by 6 runs, and the team’s no longer a hot ticket: On April 11th, the Phillies drew just 22,483 fans, the lowest since July 31, 2006.
But there are reasons to be optimistic about the 2014 season. While the pitching’s shaky, the offense is humming along: Second in the NL in hitting, first in on-base-percentage, sixth in slugging. And a big reason for that is the work of Chase Utley.
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CBS Philly reports: “Sunday marks the 5th anniversary of the death of former Phillies announcer Harry Kalas. A steady stream of fans visited the Harry Kalas statue on the concourse beyond the left field foul pole at Citizens Bank Park to take pictures of their favorite play-by-play guy.”
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Last night, I attended a talk at Fleischer Art Memorial about “The Art and Design of Sports Uniforms.” It was done by Peter Capolino, the man who turned Mitchell & Ness form a sporting goods manufacturer into the retro jersey fashion behemoth it is today.
It was pretty cool! Did you know the team didn’t always have a ‘P’ on its cap? Or that baseball jerseys were so baggy because they were wool flannel and would shrink over the course of a season? Well, maybe you did, but I didn’t. What most intrigued me was the above logo, which the Phillies wore on the sleeve of their jerseys in the 1938 season. Though the Phillies wore a blue and yellow jersey to celebrate the tricentennial of the founding of New Sweden and lost 105 games, they did have this patch. Per Sportslogos.net, this patch was once the primary logo of the team!
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Last night was a great one for a trip to Citizens Bank Park—especially if you like watching fielding errors and left after the sixth inning, as I did, before the Brewers broke a 4-4 tie by tacking on five unanswered runs to send the Phils to the basement of the NL East. (Consolation: the Mets were waiting for them there.)
But in the crisp-spring-evening department, there could hardly have been a better one for my son’s first outing to an MLB game. And speaking of a well-timed exit, he even scored a foul ball on the way out, from a guy who sure knew how to cheer the heart of a kid proudly wearing the Phils jersey he just got for his birthday. Thanks, guy! My son took that baseball to bed with him. “You can smell the grass stain on it,” he told me.
I sniffed it, agreed, and sort of wished I’d asked him to smell the beer I’d had at the game. Because man, had Victory’s Swing Session Saison confused me.
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One of my favorite memories of attending a Phillies game was on September 4, 1999. I was a senior in high school, and a group of us traveled down I-95 to the game. It was a Saturday night. I probably had a cross country meet that morning. This was a chance to relax.
More than 14 years on, I’ve forgotten many of the details. I just remember being so excited. School must have just started, and I was finally coming into my own senior year. Or, well, at least I thought I was. I was eager for my final year of high school. That night at the Phillies, my friends and I goofed around in a mostly-empty 700 Level. We went to a friend’s house in Oxford Circle afterward and hung in her basement. I probably stayed out too late for a cross-country runner. You know, high school stuff. It is just a fond memory.
The Phillies did not have their best day. The Reds set a still-standing National League record for most home runs in a game (9!) in a 22-3 thrashing of the Fightins. (After the first inning, the Phillies were ahead 2-0.) When the Reds’ 9-run fifth inning finally ended, the fans erupted in a standing Bronx cheer.
It didn’t matter that the Phillies were 17 games back after the game. We had a good time. We had all grown up in Philadelphia, so we were used to the Phillies stinking. The Phillies were 68-67 after that 22-3 loss. That’s not so bad!
What’s nice about baseball is it’s a picnic. The Phillies may have given up three home runs to Ryan Braun in a 10-4 loss in their home opener, but I still had a good time at the game yesterday. I tailgated with friends in the parking lot beforehand. I met my uncle, a man who’s taken me to scores of Phillies games in my life, and we sat in his season ticket seats. I listened to him wax nostalgic on Phillies teams in games past — ”Since the Vet opened, I’ve only missed about three home openers,” he bragged — and we drank beers and sighed as the Brewers scored another run. I ran into friends I hadn’t seen in forever. I updated an old boss on my life. I actually walked back to downtown up 10th Street because it was nice out, and a friend suggested we walk. Why has no one asked me to do this before? I wondered aloud.
The Phillies lost, 10-4. Nothing especially notable happened; most of the things I did yesterday weren’t new. They were routines I’d done before and will do again. But it was just so great to do them all again. The Phillies don’t look like they’ll be very good this year. But trips to the ballpark seem like they’ll be just as good as ever.
Follow @dhm on Twitter.